Hungarian Constitutional Changes Threaten its Religious Freedom

Thursday, March 21, 2013

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (Worthy News)-- The Hungarian government has been criticized for changes to the country’s constitution that threaten religious freedoms and other rights.

Constitutional amendments adopted by the government in March were the latest in a series of changes described by Human Rights Watch (HRW) as “problematic”. For example, a new law granted state recognition to only 14 religious groups while refusing to recognize the rest, resulting in the loss of official status for more than 300 Protestant sects and minor Catholic religious orders.

Although the Hungarian Constitutional Court struck down some of the laws introduced by the government, the latest amendments reintroduced the same laws by changing the constitution and canceling the Constitutional Court’s power to overrule those changes.

In response, thousands of Hungarians staged a demonstration in front of the presidential palace while opposition leaders hung black flags from the windows of parliament to mourn the end of Hungarian democracy.

HRW has called for the EU to consider suspending Hungary’s voting rights and a spokesman for the European Commission said it won't rule out sanctions to ensure that Hungary complies with EU law.